Thursday, March 27th, 2014
By Shelley Grieshop
Winter proves long, bitter - and very costly
  Costs rose as quickly as salt supplies plunged this winter.
Officials in Mercer and Auglaize counties report expenditures for snow and ice removal are double and triple from last year.
Auglaize County crews this year more than doubled the amount of overtime hours clocked by road crews in 2012-2013. Statistics show 2,712 overtime hours worked this year and 1,265 the year before.
Gary Kuck, chief deputy for the Auglaize County engineer's office, said 1,600 of the overtime hours occurred during weekends when most snowstorms struck.
"I tracked it all winter ... Saturday and Sunday, Saturday and Sunday ... it just seemed to fall that way all winter," he said. "But everything went well."
The Celina area documented more than 60 inches of snow this winter, about twice the region's average. Local weather forecaster Dennis Howick also counted nearly 30 frigid days when the temperature fell to zero or below; the average is four days.
Auglaize County's cost to battle this year's wintry conditions was $344,942, including $88,333 spent on fuel. Last year's total was $172,704 without fuel expenses, which weren't immediately available.
The county this year used 1,836 tons of salt, compared to 1,130 tons the previous winter. Snowplows this winter were dispatched 46 days compared to 36 days a year ago.
The extra expenses will short-change engineering budgets in Mercer and Auglaize counties, which receive revenues from gasoline taxes, license fees and grants. That means less road paving this year in both regions, officials said.
"We'll live with what we got," said Kuck, adding it currently costs about $70,000 to pave one mile of roadway.
Mercer County Engineer Jim Wiechart said the harsh wintry conditions nearly doubled his equipment, labor and material costs. This year's expenses were $486,873, compared to $244,150 last year.
  Wiechart said the back-to-back winter storms took their toll in many ways.
"The rough winter is harder on the equipment and the roads, and (it will be) sad to see less being done in construction season as a result," he said.
Mercer County crews in 2013-2014 hit the road 62 days for snow and ice control, versus 27 days last year. A total of 3,337 tons of salt and grit were used this year - almost triple the 1,159 tons used the previous year.
Overtime hours tallied 1,873, up from 823 hours last winter, Wiechart said. Regular hours more than doubled at 3,049.
The average cost this winter to keep all 384 miles of Mercer County roadways snow and ice free was $1,267 per mile - the highest in the last six years.
The lowest cost was $264 per mile during the 2011-2012 winter season.
Kuck and Wiechart happily welcomed the arrival of spring a week ago.
"Our guys were great this winter but they're ready to get out of their trucks," Kuck said.
Additional online stories for this date
Print and E-Edition only stories for this date
• Mercer Health officials await vote by Congress
• Fort school board hires new technology director
• Maria Stein man involved in fatal traffic crash
• Man chased by local police gets 48 months in prison
• Artistry Under the Dome: Artists display works at St. Charles
• Black left lasting legacy at Parkway
• Marion's Puthoff heading to UNOH
• Raising The Bar
• Mikesell takes over young Bulldogs squad
• Bulldogs softball team very young this year
• Experienced Cavaliers ready to start 2014
• Cavs hope experience leads to solid season
• Experienced Indians look to build on success
• Osterholt hoping to build Indians with youth
• Woods takes over young Marion program
• Flyers want to make another tourney run
• Wildcats looking to replace key players
• Wildcats look to make tournament run
• Confidence key to solid Cardinals' season
• Cardinals fielding a young group in 2014
• Clouse returns home to coach the Panthers
• Panthers look to continue last year's success
• Dorner has plenty of experience returning
• Huelsman looks to help alma mater win
• Dieringer wants Roughriders to improve
• Lady 'Riders look for a better 2014 season
• Plenty of experience for Celina track team
• Distance will be one of Cavaliers' strengths
• Numbers up for Indians' track program
• Marion tracksters look for successful season
• Wildcats ready for another successful year
• Cardinals look to improve through season
• Youth in abundance for Panthers track teams
• Former Redskin Reichert takes over track program
• Cisco takes over as 'Riders track coach
• NetDogs have plenty of experience in 2014
• St. Marys netters look to compete in WBL
Tuesday Night
Mostly Cloudy
Wednesday Night
Mostly Cloudy
Rain Showers Likely
Thursday Night
Rain Showers
Rain Showers Likely
Friday Night
Slight Chance Rain Showers
Mostly Cloudy
Saturday Night
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy
Sunday Night
Chance Rain Showers
3 Day